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by Leanna Chamish  [June 2, 2002]




[]  A lot of people have been asking me how it feels to be a sex symbol. I have trouble answering that. I wonder if I should take the questions seriously, or if folks are teasing me a bit, using the term "sex symbol" as a joke. I never set out to be sexy in my acting career. Of course I always try to look nice, but I wasn't marketing myself as sexy, and I still don't plan to. 

But it was flattering that producer Don Dohler and director Joe Ripple thought I was attractive enough to dress up in a PVC miniskirt and bustier and carry off the role of the Vampire Queen in Stakes

I certainly like feeling sexy and desirable!  It was great to be able to enjoy that in a role and have that feeling work to help me be the Queen.

People who know me are surprised that I can play evil characters; they think it is so unlike my real personality. They wonder how I find what it takes in myself to be nasty. Normally I am very quiet and non- confrontational.  I suppose that's why I am good at playing evil and powerful -- I am letting out lots of repression.

I am getting fan mail from all over the world and people ask me to sign autographs at horror/sci-fi conventions. So I think people like my performances. One joker on a website said I needed to get naked to make the film better, but that is the closest thing to criticism I have heard.

I have always been interested in entertainment and broadcasting. My mother was involved in radio production, and later some TV production. When I was a child, my Mom used my voice on radio spots. The radio station seemed like a glamorous place, and I ended up working at radio stations in disc jockey, board operator, announcer type positions in the Baltimore area.

I then transitioned into video production. I was a video editor at Maryland Public TV. Through my connections there I got my first two serious on-camera opportunities, which encouraged me to focus on acting.

My first opportunity came through Kim Moir, a cameraman at Maryland Public TV. He wrote, directed, and produced a movie called "Sinsitivity."  As a lark, I auditioned for the role of Jody DiLeonelli, Executive News Producer. I was not selected, but I stayed involved as a production crew member and extra.

On the night the first scenes with "Jody" were to be shot, the actress who was selected did not show up. So Kim Moir asked me to jump in and perform the role. That was my first film role -- and it was a substantial supporting character!

My second important on-camera opportunity came when the public TV station held auditions for on-camera hosts for their pledge drives. You know, the "beg-a-thons" public TV stations do. I was selected, and as a result had a regular TV gig. Every quarter when fund-raising comes around, I am on TV asking people to send money. Because it is live TV, it was and is a fabulous education in ad-libbing and thinking on my feet.

When I got the public TV hosting job, I realized I had something to offer as on-camera talent. I invested in headshots and wardrobe and earprompter equipment and soon became a steadily working commercial actor, corporate/industrial actor, and voice-over artist in the Baltimore, DC, Virginia and Pennsylvania area.

At that point, I was fortunate enough to read the audition notice from Timewarp Films and get cast in Harvesters.

Another lucky break is my friend, film director Steve Yeager. Steve made the Sundance award-winning documentary Divine Trash about John Waters, and directed On the Block. Steve invited me to take his acting classes, which gave a tremendous boost to my understanding dramatic feature film acting, as opposed to corporate/commercial work. Steve taught me technique and raised my skills and consciousness. I've also acted in Steve's industrial films, and as an AVID editor, I helped with the video editing and sound work on his latest feature, "The Connection" --  which was shown at last year's Maryland Film Festival to good reviews.

Another influential teacher was Mark Redfield, a brilliant actor and film director, who recently directed and had the lead in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde -- a terrific film that's won lots of awards. I did much of the sound design on that film, spending many long nights at the Redfield studios laying foley and sound effects. I acted in Mark's latest film, set to premiere in September, "The Sorcerer of Stonehenge School", a somewhat Harry Potter-like film. I play the boy's Mom.

My most recent acting studies are with Hillary Sachs, a former Warner Brother's casting director, now Executive in Charge of Casting at New Dominion pictures. Hillary has helped me immensely through scene studies and with encouragement to take my career to another level.

People are saying very positive things about my performances. Joe Bob Briggs called me "a truly spooky actress." That meant a lot. A lot of reviews I have read are complimentary about my acting. I haven't read a bad review yet.

Copyright 2003 by Leanna Chamish


Leanna Chamish's horror film work includes Harvesters, Stakes, and Vampire Sisters.  Read more about Chamish in the Hollywood Investigator.  Or contact her at:

Girl In Black Archives.








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